So, I guess we should talk about this a little bit, huh?
In a podcast interview with comedian Marc Maron, President Obama dropped the “N” word to highlight a point he was making about the existence of racism in America and to explain what racism is. Here’s what he said,
“Racism, we are not cured of it… and it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say n***** in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination… Societies don’t overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”
Let me begin with this – I think that the President is right. Not in saying the “N” word mind you, but in the general meaning of what he is saying. Soft racism does exist, and we must continue to work harder than we have at eliminating all remnants of racism from our culture. However, he’s the President and he needs to remember he is supposed to be an example for everyone. He should never use the “N” word, even in an explanation where it might accentuate what he is trying to say.
But President Obama’s decision to use the word didn’t stop there – it quite seriously caught fire and spread throughout the Internet.
The White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, was forced to talk about it and let the media know that President Obama has no regrets about his language.
Question: I wonder if his use of that was intended to be provocative and given the reaction does he in any way regret it?
Josh Earnest: He does not. The president’s use of the word and the reason he used the word could not be more apparent from the context of his discussion on the podcast.
Another reporter wondered if President Obama was condoning the use of the “N” word then.
Kevin Corke: I want to follow up on something a lot of people have been talking about and that is the use of the n-word [by President Obama]. Does the president condone the use of that word at home? And what would he say to parents who have worked very hard to get their children to not use it even though it’s out there. It’s in music. It’s especially in urban settings. There are parents who have said don’t ever use that word, even casually. What does he say to those parents?
Josh Earnest: Well, um, I guess you probably have to ask him that. I didn’t. It doesn’t mean it’s an illegitimate question. It just means I think for the president’s own personal views you should ask him that.
Great question from Kevin Corke. The “N” word is a word that many of us have been trying to kill for years, and sometimes it feels like standing on a beach and trying to stop an incoming wave, impossible. It doesn’t help our fight when the President uses the word so casually himself…
On MSNBC Michael Eric Dyson thinks that President Obama used the “N” word in an attempt to underscore his point and to try and speak powerfully to the problem of racism in America.
I think, is correct. Look, those of us who have been pressing President Obama to speak more explicitly and more articulately about race, this is part of the payoff. This is a man who knows so much more than he’s been willing to or allowed to speak about in public spaces.
He chooses his words carefully, he chooses his point of entry carefully, but I think this was an incredibly important moment in intervention on behalf of the American public by our president, the president of the entire United States of America to talk specifically and particularly about using that n-word.
Black people didn’t die when white people said the n-word, those who were racist who lynched and castrated and murdered them, they didn’t use the n-word, they used the word itself. What he was doing was shocking us. It’s a shock to the system, a jarring reminder of the intemperate use of that word and how it’s been connected to legacies of white supremacy that he brilliantly and forthrightly has addressed and certainly in this case did again.
I’m not sure I understand how president Obama’s casual use of the word underscores things, but I certainly know that whatever his intent, it was not the conversation taking place now. The conversation revolves around the disgusting nature of the word and whether or not it’s appropriate for the President to use such language in public.
Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC) seems to agree with Dyson about the point of the President using the word and he follows up by saying that the President’s comments are now being taken out of context.
And the problem we have today is when you try to layout such an elongated explanation, we live in a sound bite world. So people will lift the word out, lift that one sentence out and people lose the context.
When I first heard it this morning, I said to myself, my lord, what was he thinking about? And then I saw the whole thing, as you just put it, I said, I know what he was thinking about. He was trying to give a lesson, trying to teach a lesson. And so that’s the problem we have today.
A lot of things I’ve said in trying to make explanations, when I see somebody’s take on it later in the afternoon, the evening, it is totally taken out of context and if you take that sentence out of his explanation, it would mean one thing to some people. If you put the whole thing there, I believe that 95% of the American people, if not 99%, would agree that what he said was appropriate.
I understand Clyburn’s point, but I don’t agree in this instance. I think his intention and meaning are almost immediately understandable. I mean, I get exactly what he was trying to say … and I agree! I just think that use of that word to express himself immediately sullies the argument, there is just no need for the language, especially from the President of the United States.
The radically liberal and oft scandalous political commentator Cornel West threw the word right back at the president and called him “the first n****ized President.”
Cornel West: …But too many black people are n*****ized. I would say the first black president has become the first n*****ized black president.
CNN: What do you mean by that?
Cornel West: A n*****ized black person is a black person who is afraid and scared and intimidated when it comes to putting a spotlight on white supremacy and fighting against white supremacy. So when many of us said we have to fight against racism, what were we told? ‘No, he can’t deal with racism because he has other issues, political calculations. He’s the president of all America, not just black America.’ We know he’s president of all America but white supremacy is American as cherry pie.
Wow. I don’t even know how to respond to that.
Let’s just say that President Obama’s use of the “N” word almost broke the Internet.